Unable to read memory card error

Unable to Read Memory Card [7 Solutions]

Recently, my Sony camera has been giving me an annoying error message – “Unable to read memory card. Reinsert memory card.” I did some research but the answer was unclear. I found multiple forum threads with the same problem, but never a clear answer. The Sony website wasn’t helpful – it never is. It tells you to go into settings and click “format memory card.” Unfortunately for us, the format option is greyed out or blocked by the error message. Does this sound familiar? The only helpful answers I found were on YouTube, but I couldn’t find a single article with a helpful solution, so I decided to make my own. Hopefully, I can help you. Keep in mind, these solutions aren’t specific to Sony cameras, so if your experiencing SD card problems on other devices, this article can help you as well.

The unable to read memory card error is caused by a corrupted SD card. You can fix this by backing up the contents of the memory card on a computer than formatting it. You can also try updating your firmware.

Here are seven steps to fix the unable to read memory card error.

1. Remove and reinsert your memory card

You may have noticed the full error message is “Unable to read memory card. Reinsert memory card.” So the first thing you should try is to remove the memory card and reinsert it. I know this is obvious, but you might not have actually tried this, especially if you’re not using a Sony camera or device. You should also never overlook the most obvious solution. While we’re talking about obvious solutions, I also suggest that you turn your camera off and on again. Try both of these a few times, removing the memory card and reinserting it, and turning your camera off and on again. If your memory card is working again – great. Unfortunately, for the majority of us, it’s not that simple.

2. Clean your memory card slot

SD Card upside down
Photo by One Idea LLC on StockSnap

These seven steps go in order. The earlier steps are the most obvious and easiest to do, while the steps later are more difficult but usually solve the problem. You want to do these steps in order so you don’t waste your time. (Or Sony supports time by contacting them too early.) If a step solves your problem, great, if not move on to the next step. If removing and reinserting your memory card didn’t work. the next thing you should do is clean your memory card slot. Sometimes dust gets caught inside your memory card slot which can prevent your camera from reading the card properly. You should also clean the memory card itself, but don’t touch the metal part – that might damage it.

3. Change to memory card slots

If cleaning your memory card slot didn’t work. Try changing your slot altogether. This is a way to test if that specific memory card slot was the problem. Most Sony cameras have slot one and slot two. But even if you’re not using a Sony camera, or not using a camera at all, the point remains. Try using the memory card on a separate device. This will tell you what the problem is. If the memory card works on another device, then the original device is the problem. If the memory card doesn’t work on anything, then the memory card is the problem. If the device is the problem move onto the next step. If the memory card is the problem, you can skip step four and move onto step five, but you should probably update your firmware anyway.

Dual SD Card slot camera
Adryan R. Villanueva, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Update your firmware

If the memory card works on other devices, but not the one you want it to. Chances are the device has a problem. On a Sony camera, you can fix this by updating the firmware. Sony usually patches well-known problems in later versions of their firmware. If you’re not using a Sony device, still do the same thing. You can update your firmware, your operating system, your drivers – anything your device manufacturer usually releases patches on. Nine out of ten times this will solve the problem. If it didn’t, keep following the rest of the steps.

5. Backup and format your memory card

You might be thinking – hey wait didn’t you yourself say that the option to format the memory card was blocked by the error message. Yes, however, there is a way to get around the error message and format the card. If you’ve made it to step five, then chances are the memory card is the problem. Remove the card from your camera and insert it into your laptop or computer. Save all the photos that you want to keep onto your desktop then delete everything from the memory card. Insert it back into your camera and you won’t get the same error, you’ll get a different one – “image database file error“. This is still an error, but this one will allow you to properly format your memory card. After doing so, the problem should be fixed. On your computer, add your old photos back onto your SD card.

6. Use another memory card

If updating your camera’s firmware didn’t help, and formatting the memory card didn’t help. The problem is not rooted in software. Either your memory card or your camera has been physically damaged. You should hope it’s your memory card since these are easier to replace. Try using a different memory card from a different brand. Sometimes certain brands aren’t compatible with certain cameras, or your memory card may have been scratched. This is the last attempt at solving the problem yourself before contacting tech support.

7. Contact your support

If the previous six steps didn’t work. This means that your SD card’s software can’t be the problem. Your SD card’s hardware can’t be the problem. Your camera’s software can’t be the problem. This only leaves one conclusion, your camera’s hardware is faulty. Contact Sony technical support or whatever brand you’re using. Hopefully, they’ll provide a replacement if you’re still under warranty. You can also take the device to repair shops.

3 thoughts on “Unable to Read Memory Card [7 Solutions]”

  1. How do you get the memory card sd card to read on a nother phone tablet computer or what ever you choose to use with out having to erase everything what ever that technical word they use because I end up deleting several sd card because of that one and only option they use just because of it does anyone know what I am talking about? Because I want to put it in a big screen like laptop or what ever to easily sort out and prioritize my albums and be able to delete any duplicate I have with out having to go back and forth just to make sure that that the ones need to be deleted

  2. Hi, what worked for me was to change my Sony A7SIII from PAL to NTFS. This restarts your Camera and both cards were back to normal with no data loss. Changed back to PAL and were able to use and format the cards again.
    menu>setup (Yellow menu)>Area/date>NTSC/PAL selector

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